Las Vegas Urban League doing some good in community

The Las Vegas Urban League found itself in some unwelcome headlines last month when the state attorney general’s office filed a criminal complaint against the organization’s $100,000-a-year interim president and CEO, Morse Arberry. The complaint accuses the 25-year former assemblyman of failing to report more than $120,000 in campaign contributions and depositing the money into a personal account.

Mr. Arberry is entitled to a presumption of innocence.

More importantly, this is no reason to overlook the good the Urban League has done in this community since its founding in 2004. Consider the organization’s Re-Entry of Ex-Offenders program, which plays a pivotal role in helping former prison inmates get back on the straight and narrow.

Featuring intensive case management, job skills training, mentoring and other services, it’s one of dozens of nonprofit or faith-based re-entry programs for ex-offenders that have proved crucial to helping former inmates succeed, says Bradford Glover of the state’s Department of Corrections.

Nevada has long done better than most states when it comes to inmate recidivism — nationwide, more than 40 percent of those released from prison go back within three years, while the number in Nevada is just over 22 percent.

There are a number of reasons for that. Nevada incarcerates more lower-level offenders, who are less likely to re-offend. And released Nevada felons are less likely to commit parole violations because the state grants parole in a lot fewer cases than many states.

But programs such as the Urban League’s also make a difference.

Greg Salcido, 32, a convicted thief from California who went up the last time when he was found in a stolen car, says: "It’s very frustrating and intimidating to try to get back into the work force when you’ve got a felony. They ask you, ‘Have you ever been in trouble?’ And I don’t want to lie."

The Urban League’s Re-Entry of Ex-Offenders program helped Salcido find work as a server at a local wedding chapel. The program has more than 260 participants and a 75 percent retention rate. That’s called doing some good.

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